Extraordinary Structures for Extraordinary Animals

CrossingsOne of my favorite non­fic­tion pic­ture books of 2020 is Cross­ings: Extra­or­di­nary Struc­tures for Extra­or­di­nary Ani­mals by Katy S. Duffield, illus­trat­ed by Mike Orodán.

Here’s a brief description:

Around the world, bridges, tun­nels, and high­ways help peo­ple get from one place to anoth­er. But what hap­pens when con­struc­tion spreads over, under, across, and through ani­mal habi­tats? Thank­ful­ly, sci­en­tists, engi­neers, and con­struc­tion crews have come togeth­er to cre­ate wildlife cross­ings to help keep ani­mals safe.

From elk tra­vers­ing a wildlife bridge across a Cana­di­an inter­state to titi mon­keys using rope bridges over a Cos­ta Rican road and sala­man­ders creep­ing through tiny tun­nels beneath a Mass­a­chu­setts street, young read­ers will be inspired by the inge­nious solu­tions that are sav­ing the lives of count­less wild animals.

Why do I love this expos­i­to­ry lit­er­a­ture book so much? Because it clev­er­ly com­bines envi­ron­men­tal sci­ence and engi­neer­ing in a way that’s bound to engage a broad audi­ence of young readers.

illus­tra­tion copy­right &#169 Mike Orodán, from
Cross­ings: Extra­or­di­nary Struc­tures for Extra­or­di­nary Ani­mals
by Katy S. Duffield, pub­lished by Beach Lane Books, Simon & Schuster

Cross­ings fea­tures stun­ning art and a dynam­ic list book for­mat as well as lyri­cal text burst­ing with vivid verbs and rich lan­guage. For exam­ple, in the intro­duc­tion, Duffield writes, “Around the world, in search of solu­tions, ani­mal lovers come togeth­er. Open­ings their minds and their hearts, they work to find ideas, answers.”

Through­out the book, Duffield deft­ly employs the prepo­si­tions over, under across, and through to link the efforts of peo­ple who have designed and built a vari­ety struc­tures to keep ani­mals safe as they trav­el from one part of their habi­tat to another.

The heart of the book is twelve spreads that use a com­pare-and-con­trast text struc­ture and lay­ered text to high­light a wide range of ani­mals and wildlife cross­ings from all over the world.

The larg­er main text presents the main idea in a sin­gle sen­tence, such as, “Coy­otes creep OVER the rush of Ari­zona motorists below,” and “”Pan­golins teeter-tot­ter toward their bur­rows ACROSS a Sin­ga­pore expressway.”

After read­ing these love­ly, lyri­cal sen­tences, read­ers can enjoy sev­er­al sen­tences of more detailed sec­ondary text set at a small­er size. This for­mat makes the book acces­si­ble to read­ers at var­i­ous grade levels.

Cross­ings is a great addi­tion to class­room and library book col­lec­tions. It sup­ports a vari­ety of Next Gen­er­a­tion Sci­ence Stan­dards per­for­mance expec­ta­tions and works well as a read aloud. It’s also makes a great men­tor text for study­ing craft moves in infor­ma­tion­al writing.

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3 years ago

I love CROSSINGS so much too, Melis­sa! It has STEM and heart or what I like to call STEM­pa­thy – cre­at­ing empa­thy for creatures.

Katy Duffield
Katy Duffield
Reply to  mariagianferrari
3 years ago

Thank you, Maria!

Katy Duffield
Katy Duffield
3 years ago

Thank you, Melis­sa, for this love­ly review of CROSSINGS – and thanks, too, for all you do to pro­mote nonfiction!